If you were a 29-year-old newbie swimming in a pool of seasoned business sharks, you would probably be a little careful.
Kyle Dubas, General Manager of Toronto Maple Leafs, remembered anxiety-causing June 2015 when the keys to shopping were suddenly and temporarily handed over to him.
It was a transitional off-season in Leafland. President Brendan Shanahan had recently fired his inherited general manager Dave Nonis but has not yet hired Lou Lamoriello. Therefore, he opened the assistant Dubas, his young protégé and Mark Hunter "Interim GM" tags.
"Just don't tell anyone," advised Shanahan Dubas before the rookie came to his first GM meeting with the other executives.
“I was less scared when I went to Vegas. That was one of the most nervous times in my life, ”Dubas recalled with a smile from an insightful NHL zoom conference on Friday.
"I've known Ronnie Francis all my life, so he was like the only person I could talk to. I just went in, sat in my chair, made notes at the meeting, and got up and left. But I was nervous.
"I really didn't feel like I belong there. I had only been in the league for a year and we were a month away from Lou. So I just went in, took my notes and got on the plane. "
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Retired NHL star Bill Guerin, 49, is still at the helm of Minnesota Wild in the first year. Despite his in-game lineage and experience in Pittsburgh when he learned from Jim Rutherford, Guerin Dubas agrees.
These meetings can be intimidating for newcomers who tend to resist experienced voices such as Doug Wilson, Doug Armstrong, Ken Holland, and David Poile.
"I didn't say a word. I know my first meetings – nothing, nothing at all," said Guerin. "You will learn more with your ears, not with your mouth.
"Some of the guys who have been around for a long time obviously know what they're doing and they have a bit of control over the agenda."
Guerin, once famous for his twittering on the ice, said he was sitting next to Marc Bergevin from Montreal]]
One-liners appear in Guerin's head – "But I'm doing pretty well not to let it out of my mouth," he said.
Dubas has also warmed up the emotions surrounding his first NHL trade, which took place in the same month.
GM Dale Tallon of Florida Panthers had a wing brochure at the University of Michigan called Zach Hyman, which the Toronto-based Dubas had in mind. In return, Tallon wanted a young control center in the Leafs system, Greg McKegg.
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“At first I thought it was some kind of setup to overtake one, but when he met Dale, he was just trying to be helpful. And it worked for them and for us, ”said Dubas and modestly avoided naming the players involved.
“[Tallon] was great to deal with. I don't think you could ask someone who is more straightforward and open about their position on it. It was kind of refreshing and actually very helpful to me because he realized that it was my first trade. "
We make Duba's first trade as a profit for the Maple Leafs. Hyman has established itself as an integral part of the top 6 in Toronto, while Florida did without McKegg in 2017.
More stressful, Dubas explained, were recent deals in which he moved several assets for a known commodity. Like the 2019 Jake Muzzin deal with Los Angeles, which came at the expense of two prospects (Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi's rights) plus Leafs' first choice.
"I just ask myself:" Is that the right thing? "And you get involved in what you give up and what you give back," said Dubas.
"It's always nerve-wracking, I think, but you're just trying to educate [yourself] and you're mainly dealing with a large group of people. So it's all pretty good."